Don't get me wrong, I'll take the 26-21 win. However, we can't expect to always come out on top in these close games that need OT or a late 4th quarter score to win. Ben has proved to be fantastic late-game QB, but it sucks to routinely have to lean on a late push to secure the W. How about putting a team away early, no?
Example: The Steelers (save for the Mathis INT...gross) dominated the first three quarters of play, only to find themselves 6 points up on a team that should've been down a few scores. Then, only a minute into the 4th, we're losing. Look, Cotter and I predicted a 100% season for Jeff Reed, but the more we keep asking for FG after FG, the higher chance he has of missing one. The second quarter, we put up a touchdown and two FGs. Two touchdowns and a kick or, dare I say, three touchdowns and the game is over. Stalled drives will only over-work Reed and kill the perfect prediction.
But as I said...we're 4-1 going into the much needed bye. When the schedule was first released, I'm sure you, like me, were complaining about the early bye and how the Steelers always seem to get stuck with that same scenario, forcing the team into tons of consecutive late-season football games, pending a deep playoff run. Now, with the injuries to the guys, the bye seems to have come at the right time.
So, who did what?
Ben. He's still an enigma. We talked about Rashean Mathis in the damn pregame show...I don't know why Ben would look his way AT ALL during the game. Baseball pitchers regularly pitch around the guys who bat well against them, Ben needs to do the same when playing the Jags. THROW TO WHATEVER SIDE OF THE FIELD MATHIS ISN'T ON! Other than that unfortunate early pick, Ben looked sharper than the past two games, so there's that. 300+ yards and 3 TDs will quickly make everyone forget the pick, but not me. Why? Its the exact same play as all the other Mathis picks. Ben is pressured and throws an ill-timed pass off his back foot to the right side, only to see dreadlocks flying down that same sideline for a pick 6. I thought about giving Ben a 4, but he only gets 3.5 out of 5 helmets.
Mewelde Moore. I don't know why Gary Russell was in the game late leading up to that final score. Russell had played well to that point, but Moore had exceeded anyone's expectations. Plus, he finished with 99 yards, so it woulda been nice to see him top 100 with this crack O-Line and RB corps that we currently have. I liked the pickup when we first got Mewelde for this exact reason. The guy isn't a fall-forward-for-two-yards guy like Najeh...he'll actually look good picking up 10 yard clips. A perfect 5 of 5 helmets, because you didn't see him getting anywhere near the century mark.
Bruce Arians. Anyone else get physically sick when he starts talking to Ben? He tried to make some adjustments...throwing to Heath more than once, allowing Mewelde to run it outside...but he still reverted to form early and often. I texted Cotter after the half with this: "That last Arians drive inside the 5: Run up the middle into the pile? Check. Fade pass to the corner of the endzone? Check. So predictable." Sure, I saw a lot of predictability from teams like the Cowboys yesterday, but Arians does nothing to disguise his plan. Last week I gave him 1 helmet. I'll bump him up to 2 of 5 helmets this week.
Wooderson. This is my new Bennifer/Brangelina name for Woodley and Harrison. Plus, I love Dazed and Confused. The two guys are a perfect match on the outsides, so I can't look at them as anything but a tandem. Each week they do something that gives me goosebumps. Woodley's shoestring sack (last time I type that phrase) was awesome, and Silverback came through with yet another forced fumble. Everyone needs to stop calling Harrison "one of the best pass rushers in the league." He's gotta be at the top with how he puts up sacks (last time I type that phrase also) week after week. He's a half sack (gross, again) behind John Abraham for the league lead and is tops in the NFL in forced fumbles. And Woodley's only in the first half of his second year. I fear for the safety of the rest of the league. 5 of 5 motorcycle helmets for Wooderson. That's why I love these OLBs. I get older...they keep putting up the same play. All right, all right, all right.
Santonio. I can't quite understand why he's taken a step back in performance this year. After last season, it looked like '08 was Holmes' year to break out. Hell, I felt crazy confident in my second round fantasy pick of Holmes, but he's just under-performed all year to this point. I can't tell if the blame falls solely on him, or if opposing DBs are really intent on keeping him from destroying them. Sure, he's had nice plays here and there, clutch grabs from time to time, but nothing that screams consistency. Those 65 yards were good last night, but he, not Nate Washington, needs to be the one putting up nearly 100 with a score. I'll give Nate 4 of 5 helmets for last night, but Santonio gets a 5 game, cumulative 3 of 5 motorcycle helmets.
Heal up this week, guys. It doesn't get any easier the rest of the way.